Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

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Oct 9, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) and Atlanta Hawks forward Tiago Splitter (11) box out New Orleans Pelicans forward

Anthony Davis

(23) during the third quarter at Veterans Memorial Arena. The Atlanta Hawks won 103-93. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports


Tiago Splitter: The Atlanta Hawks added depth on the bench this offseason with the addition of former Spurs’ center Tiago Splitter. The Hawks have long coveted a legitimate 5, and they now have that in Splitter. The team struggled in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers’ physical front-court of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson, failing to secure key rebounds on the offensive and defensive end. With Splitter, Mike Budenholzer can now go big to help mitigate the efficacy of an opposing front-court. The addition of Splitter also affords the Atlanta Hawks with more versatility as they can mix and match with Splitter, Horford and Millsap.

Dennis Schroder: Dennis Schroder returns to the team in his third year at the professional level, having improved his game significantly last season. Schroder has worked hard this offseason to refine his game, working with Kyle Korver on improving his jump-shot, while also playing with the German National Team in the Eurobasket tournament where he averaged 26.3 points per contest. Mike Budenholzer frequently employed a “small” lineup of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder last season, which he will probably replicate in 2015-2016. In Dennis Schroder, the Atlanta Hawks have one of the best backup point guards in the league and when combined with Jeff Teague, the Hawks have one of the most dynamic backcourts in the game.

Oct 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) reacts to a play in the third quarter of their game against the San Antonio Spurs at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 100-86. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Thabo Sefolosha: Thabo Sefolosha was by far the Atlanta Hawks best defensive player last season before succumbing to a season ending injury in April during an altercation with the NYPD. Recently vindicated legally following his trial in New York, Sefolosha continues to work his way back from the injury and will begin the season coming off the bench. With Kent Bazemore starting, it’s unclear if Sefolosha will lay claim to a starting role on the Hawks at some point in the year. Even if he remains as a part of the reserve corps, Sefolosha’s defensive prowess is an integral part of the team’s success.

Tim Hardaway, Jr.: The Atlanta Hawks added Tim Hardway, Jr. via a trade with the New York Knicks on draft night. An underperforming player while playing in New York, Mike Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks believe that Hardaway can develop as an important piece in Atlanta and improve his game significantly. Though the trade brought polarizing reviews, Hardaway possesses the offensive acumen to become an important part of the Atlanta Hawks’ reserves. Though the returns during the preseason are discouraging. with patience and hard work, Tim Hardway will develop into an effective offensive threat coming off the Atlanta Hawks’ bench.

Mike Muscala: Moose came into his own at the end of last season, as Mike Budenholzer played Muscala in favor of Mike Scott. Muscala’s development is key in his ascendance into the Atlanta Hawks’ rotation, and is once again looking to gain more minutes following the departure of Pero Antic and the uncertainty of Mike Scott’s legal situation. Muscala’s size enables him to play PF and Center, and his shooting ability fits in with the Hawks’ offensive schemes. I fully expect Muscala to become a key part of the Atlanta Hawks 10-man rotation this season and to see significant minutes with Tiago Splitter off the bench.

Next: The Bench (Continued)